Trans lives are increasingly at risk. They are twice as likely to be victims of crime in England and Wales than cis people (according to data from the Office for National Statistics published this year). It’s therefore increasingly important for cis people to show solidarity for our trans siblings. Allyship is a doing word – here are some starter tips for practical ways to be a trans ally.
Gender identity is unique, personal and varied and everyone has the right to define it how they want. Personal perception of physical appearance has no bearing on this. Listen to trans people. Listen to the name they are currently using and the pronouns they are using and respect it.
If you make a mistake (calling someone by the wrong name or using the wrong pronoun), don’t worry! Apologise quickly and sincerely then move on. Don’t make a big deal out of it – it only makes the situation uncomfortable.
It should go without saying, but questions about body parts and surgical status are off limits unless proactively brought up by the transgender person you’re talking to.
Learn about the legislation that affects trans lives.
One example is the UK government’s Gender Recognition Act (GRA). Lack of reform is causing concerns about further complications for trans people to transition and access essential facilities like toilets and changing rooms.
Groups like Stonewall work with the Government Equalities Office on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community on issues like this – you can donate to Stonewall to help them keep going here: https://www.stonewall.org.uk/support-stonewall.
Vocally stand against anti-trans legislation at all levels, local and national. Crucially, don’t vote for political parties that put trans lives at risk!
One place you can make a difference is your workplace. Set an inclusive tone at meetings and events. If you need to ask what pronouns a person uses, share yours first! For example. “Hi, I’m Chloe and I use the pronouns she and her. How about you?”
Do keep in mind LGBTQ+ organisation GLAAD’s advice on this: “However, if you feel this practice will have the effect of singling out the trans people in the room or putting them on the spot, avoid it. Remember, it costs cisgender people nothing to share their pronouns, but for trans people it can be a very serious decision.”
Add pronouns to your email signature, professional bios, your social media bios. This is an easy way to normalise it and vocalise your support for inclusion.
An essential part of showing up for the transgender community is calling out transphobia. This is especially imperative in LGB spaces – there is no place for gatekeeping. Don’t stand for bad jokes, don’t stand for bad comments. Everyone on the gender spectrum should be welcomed with open arms into LGB spaces.
If you’re unsure how to go about confronting people who you think have shown problematic behaviour, Straight For Equality has a useful guide on how to have uncomfortable conversations. Check out page 41 of their document Guide to Being a Trans Ally here: http://www.straightforequality.org/trans
On a larger more public scale, GLAAD has a great resource for reporting any media defamation of trans people you come across: https://www.glaad.org/reportdefamation
Organisations to support
There are excellent organisations that do important work for trans people. They need help to keep going.
One example is Mermaids – they are a UK-based charity that work tirelessly to support trans and gender-diverse children. They work with both children and parents and hold events like residential weekends. Support the work they do here: https://mermaidsuk.org.uk/donate/
If you’re not financially able to support trans organisations, you can volunteer for groups like gendered intelligence. Find out more here: http://genderedintelligence.co.uk/support-us/volunteer
Diversify your media consumption. Seek out stories about, and made by, transgender people. The more you seek out unique narratives the richer life becomes.
Read trans writing! Juno Roche, to name just one writer, is an amazing trans writer and campaigner. In particular, I’d recommend their book Gender Explorers. It consists of various interviews with trans or gender-diverse children. It’s moving, enlightening and essential.
Finally, it’s important to remember that trans people don’t owe us answers and it is not their responsibility to educate us. This list is in no way an exhaustive and it’s important that every individual puts in the time and effort in to practice consistent allyship.
Trans lives matter.
Written by Chloe Porter
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